The young princess and her 1933 wave

The UK Murdoch asswipe The Sun has unearthed footage showing Elizabeth II in 1933 allegedly being taught the Nazi salute by her embarrassing uncle, and perhaps even worse the Good Old Queen Mum enthusiastically participating.

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Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator (1940)

1933: Hitler had only just risen to power, and the Queen was just seven years old. As this article says:

What these visual artefacts can never do is give us context. While movie footage or photographs are brilliant at freezing time, they are frustratingly dumb when it comes to giving a full account of themselves. In the case of the young cavorting Queen, it is not apparent what had been going on that day. But assuming this film was taken in the summer of 1933, then her Uncle Edward was months away from consummating his affair with Wallis Simpson, the one that would bring the monarchy to the brink of extinction and propel Elizabeth to the throne.

When you know this, then Edward’s tasteless attempt to get his little niece to do a Nazi salute takes on a whole new resonance. Far from being an unconvincing revelation about the political sympathies of a seven-year-old child, those 17 seconds of juddery home movie become an exhilarating reminder that history does sometimes turn out well. Edward’s moral torpor, his inability to consult anything but his own tawdry vanities, is sharply on display in this pastoral scene gone wrong. What we are left with – but only if we read the image in its full context – is a profound sense of relieved thanks that the little girl in the kilt was eventually given the chance to put things right.

Mind you, Uncle Eddie was a bit of an admirer. Not alone of course:

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That’s Viscount Rothermere:

Let’s get the undisputed facts out of the way first. At the beginning of the 1930s, the then Viscount Rothermere (Harold Harmsworth) owned the Mail and the Mirror.

In January 1934, he wrote – under his own byline – articles that appeared in both the Mail and the Mirror. The former was headlined “Hurrah for the Blackshirts”. The latter was headlined “Give the Blackshirts a helping hand.”

Within a year, he had removed his support for Mosley’s party, though he remained an admirer of both Hitler and Mussolini. Indeed, he met and corresponded with Hitler, even congratulating him on his annexation of Czechoslovakia.

But read the rest of Roy Greenslade’s Don’t damn the Daily Mail for its fascist flirtation 80 years ago.

And this looks interesting.

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See Fascism and our forefathers, a review by Craig Munro. It’s in Wollongong Library too!

… As well as the politicians, Bird arraigns NSW police commissioner ”Big Bill” MacKay (who became the wartime head of Australia’s new Security Service), along with a motley crew of academics, journalists, artists, writers, publishers and businessmen. Among their number were those who had fallen for the father of all conspiracy theories – that Jews were behind both communism and ”international finance”. European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution discovered Australia was not immune to anti-Semitism.

Among Bird’s intellectuals of interest is the former editor of The Argus, Alec Chisholm, who attended Hitler’s Berlin rally in September 1938 and described the Fuehrer’s ”commanding presence” as a ”mixture of Jack Lang, Eric Campbell of the New Guard and [former prime minister] Billy Hughes”. Bird firmly applies his ”Nazi Dreamer” label to two academics at the University of Melbourne: Professor Alan Chisholm and associate professor of German, Augustin Lodewyckx (Manning Clark’s future father-in-law). Bird even implicates Clark, based on his private diaries and his travels in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s with his fiancee, the brilliant linguist Dymphna Lodewyckx…

All very interesting, but to me the Sun’s publishing that home movie is the kind of low act that is just par for the Murdoch tabloid course.

Later

Over lunch at City Diggers I put it to Nev, who happens also to have been born in April 1926 like the Queen: “Could there be film of you doing a Nazi salute?” “Oh yes,” he said, “we did mock Nazi salutes all the time in those days.” That, I suspect, is really what we have been seeing — despite Uncle Eddie’s rightly suspect enthusiasms. More Charlie Chaplin than crypto-Nazi.

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